Militancy, terrorism and conflict are not new to Mali. At least 342 people have been killed in conflict this year alone.
Some 2.4 million Malians are currently affected by conflict waged for decades by Tuareg separatists and in more recent years by Islamist jihadi groups. In northern Mali this year, different Islamist factions have picked up the pace and severity of their attacks against civilians, while the separatists remain active in fighting government forces.
The Islamists’ attacks have spread this year to the centre of the country. Since June, this violence has even reached previously peaceful areas in the south near the borders with Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso.
In August this year, Mali experienced some of the worst violence since international forces pushed Islamist militants out of their northern strongholds in January 2013. The upsurge included a high-profile attack by al-Qaeda-linked Islamists on a popular hotel frequented by UN officials that left 13 people dead. Read more here.
Most recently, on 20 November 2015, gunmen, suspected to be Islamist militants, took 170 people hostage at an upscale hotel in Bamako, the capital. At least three people are reported to have been killed during the siege. The latest attack has renewed fears that the security situation will once again deteriorate and that more Malians will soon flee. Aid delivery to those most in need could also be affected.
Visualisation of conflict "events"
Note: The arrow indicates which is the primary "actor" in the conflict event, pointing to the secondary actor. The size of the circle is proportion to the total number of fatalities in the events involving the actor.
Despite the long-awaited signing of a peace deal in June 2015 with the main Tuareg groups, nearly 200,000 people are still displaced, either within Mali or in neighbouring countries. Attacks by jihadis on communities and places where international aid workers live and work have contributed to a crisis in which an estimated 3.1 million people lack sufficient food and more than 410,000 need immediate humanitarian assistance. In the north, where the security situation is particularly bad, rates of acute malnutrition among children under five now exceed the emergency threshold.
Who is responding?
In addition to the Malian army, 11,000 UN troops as well as military contingents from France and some African states are deployed in Mali with various peacekeeping and counterinsurgency mandates.
For more on Mali, see our ongoing coverage of the conflict and attempts at peace:
- What peace deal? No end to Mali conflict
- Thousands flee violent upsurge in northern Mali
- Briefing: Is Mali’s peace process in peril?
- Life still hard in northern Mali, despite peace deal
Data: ACLED as of 14 November